ryan lo’s chinatown dolls bring good fortune to autumn/winter 16
Channelling the spirit of Mulan, this collection is for all the girls who stole their father’s armour, ran away from home, dishonoured the Chinese army, and still wanted to look fabulous doing it.
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans
There are two great days in a person's life: the day we are born and the day we prove why we are born. Ryan Lo was born to spin blossom-coloured fantasy worlds out of tulle and sweet thoughts, and the Hong Kong-born, London-based designer has proved it time and time again.
Past seasons have seen the Fashion East alumni fill the Barbie shaped hole in our adult lives by introducing us to gun-slinging froufrou females, SATC pool party mermaids, Frozen-inspired ice princesses and cozy bedtime beauties. With each collection comes a newly evolved girl with a different career and accessories to match. Yesterday, to the sounds of Reflection from Mulan, our favourite pink-haired designer presented us with an offering of pretty young Chinatown princesses.
Dressed in busy florals and knit sweaters sporting bunnies, butterflies and tiger motifs, while his heroines were as supercute as ever, Isamaya Ffrench's double flick eye make-up brought a glimmer of not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman elegance to the party. Silks and tulle reigned supreme, and as the bejewelled QTs walked under the magnificent Gary Card-designed archways, ribbons tied around their long ponytails flowed behind them on the imagined breeze.
Backstage, Ryan politely declines photo requests from the flurry of fashion journalists but obliges his mum, who has taken a trip over from his native Hong Kong to see the show and has been standing proudly across the room watching him and the post-show rush in a patterned pink sweater from the collection. In just seven seasons, her son has gone from young graduate to one of London's most popular designers, where he continues to make shimmering waves in the fashion world with his handcrafted fantasies.
We congratulate an exhausted Ryan, share his frow gift of White Rabbit milk candies, and ask what on earth he's going to do with the set, presuming that he'll construct some sort of Disney castle from it in which he will live happily ever after. "I don't know… do you want to steal it?" I mean… basically. "Take it if you can! The set, the press release, the goodybag, the invitation…. everything is pink! It's a bit like we're in candyworld."
Ten years deep in London life and Ryan has been reflecting on his Chinese heritage. "I kind of imagined myself as Mulan, away from home. Almost like I'm soul searching." And while Mulan wonders when her reflection will show who she is inside, Ryan looks inside himself to find happiness. "I found it now because we're all finished for the season!" he jokes. With her head held high and her fox-rabbit hybrid faux fur stole thrown over an arm, he imagines this season's girl is "just hanging out in Chinatown… probably going for hotpot at the amazing place we just discovered a few weeks ago." And for Valentine's Day last weekend? "She worked. She worked in a Chinese takeaway." Getting chatted up by everyone but being shy to do anything about it? "Exactly." ♥
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans